Culturally Responsive Lesson Plan – Western Maritime Region – Indigenous Understandings of Volcanos, Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Alaska, the Pacific and South-East Asia

Lesson Plan for Western Maritime Region – Ryan Hickel

Resources:

Volcano, Earthquake and Tsunami Stories of the Unangax and Koniag Sugpiaq Peoples (Aleut Peoples)

Modern Day Tsunami Evacuation Story in Unangum tunuu and Sugpiaq (Aleut Languages)

Chenega Village Tsunami Photos

Hawaiian, South Pacific and Beyond

Moken People (Sea Gypsies, Southeast Asia)

Video Interview of Moken Survivor of 2004 Southeast Asia Tsunami

Cultural Standard Most Closely Related to My Lesson Plan:

B. A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future.
1. Recognizes the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs, and grounds students learning the principles and practices associated with that knowledge;

It was tough to choose B over D because indigenous oral traditions have repeatedly steered western science into directions (once those oral traditions were heeded as valid) that altered western scientific understanding of natural history/phenomena and that is kind of summed up by D’s maxim that: “A culturally-responsive curriculum fosters a complementary relationship across knowledge derived from diverse knowledge systems.”

But I didn’t choose D.  I chose B because B’s maxim that: “A culturally-responsive curriculum recognizes cultural knowledge as part of a living and constantly adapting system that is grounded in the past, but continues to grow through the present and into the future,” and particularly it’s first focus on: “the contemporary validity of much of the traditional cultural knowledge, values and beliefs…”  

Whether it is the Moken people of the Andaman sea knowing what it means when the sea goes out unexpectedly (and the ethnic Thai disastrously not knowing), or native Fijians or Hawaiians keeping accounts of unknown and unbelieved by western geologists (but later verified) volcanic eruptions in their myths, or Solomon islanders knowing just what it means when vegetation on the volcano’s slope starts to die, or a Unangax myth about a sparrow flying inland to tell about a coming tsunami turns out to mimic actual avian behavior preceding an event that like, or even western historians regarding Plato and Solon’s stories about Atlantis as not being rooted in some historical and cataclysmic event (until recent years)…my lesson plan is about revealing that all of these western mis-assumptions or knowledge holes were corrected by oral traditions/myths/ancient beliefs.

5 thoughts on “Culturally Responsive Lesson Plan – Western Maritime Region – Indigenous Understandings of Volcanos, Earthquakes and Tsunamis in Alaska, the Pacific and South-East Asia”

  1. Ryan,
    I read your lesson plan about indigenous oral traditions of volcanos, earthquakes and tsunamis in various coastal/oceanic cultures. You have great resources for students to use, and this will generate a lot of positive discussion in the class. I would use some of the sources for a Science lesson about volcanos, earthquakes, and tsunamis. Well done!

  2. This lesson is definitely one of my favorites in the class! I can’t wait to see the final page and use these resources in my classroom at some point. It wasn’t until we talked that I realized how precious and life-saving these oral traditions probably were, and still are, in these areas. I love how they are teaching the world a thing or two! Powerful statements being made by the Natives.

      1. I concurr, this is an awesome lesson. I like the idea of having many small groups presenting different oral histories and how they relate to science. It reminds me of the article we read about the scientists going out with the Elders in Minto, and how the scientists were essentially oblivious to the ecosystem while the Elders understood the world so deeply.

        Makes me wish I was teaching about rocks.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *